“Saturday Night Fish Fry” is a popular song, written by Louis Jordan and Ellis Lawrence Walsh, best known through the version recorded by Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five.
Jordan’s “Saturday Night Fish Fry” has been called one of the first rock and roll records. Chuck Berry was quoted as saying, “To my recollection, Louis Jordan was the first one that I hear play rock and roll.”
- The recording, which at 5:21 ran longer than a standard side of a 78 record, was broken into two halves, one on either side of the release.
- The single was a big hit, topping the R&B chart for twelve non-consecutive weeks in late 1949. It also reached number 21 on the national chart, a rare accomplishment for a “race record” at that time.
- “Saturday Night Fish Fry” was first recorded by Eddie Williams and His Brown Buddies, which featured the talk-singing vocals of Ellis Walsh. However, the acetate for the Williams band version found its way to Louis Jordan’s agent and as Williams later recalled, “They got theirs out there first.”
- To this day Louis Jordan still ranks as the top black recording artist of all time in terms of the total number of weeks at #1—his records scored an incredible total of 113 weeks in the No. 1 position (the runner-up being Stevie Wonder with 70 weeks). From July 1946 through May 1947, Jordan scored five consecutive No. 1 songs, holding the top slot for 44 consecutive weeks.
- BBC comedy-show host Stephen Fry adapted the song’s title into a play on his own name and used the result for his six-part 1988 programme Saturday Night Fry.
“Good Rocking Tonight” was originally a jump blues song released in 1947 by its writer, Roy Brown and was covered by many other recording artists. The song includes the memorable refrain, “Well I heard the news, there’s good rocking tonight!” The song anticipated elements of rock and roll music.
- The owner of Bill Riley’s Palace Park hired him, as Brown told a Blues Unlimited interviewer, because of his appeal as “a Negro who sounds white.”
- Brown had first offered his song to Wynonie Harris, who turned it down. He then approached Cecil Gant later that night, but after hearing Brown sing, Gant made a 2:30 AM phone call to Jules Braun, the president of DeLuxe Records. After Roy Brown sang his song over the phone, Braun asked Brown to sing it a second time. He then told Gant, “Give him fifty dollars and don’t let him out of your sight.”
- Only after Brown’s record had gained traction in New Orleans did Harris decide to cover it. Harris’s version was even more energetic than Brown’s original version, featuring black gospel style handclapping.
- In 1954, “Good Rockin’ Tonight” was the second Sun Records release by Elvis Presley, along with “I Don’t Care if the Sun Don’t Shine” on the flip side.
- Brown continued to make his mark on the R&B charts, scoring 14 hits from mid-1948 to late 1951 with De Luxe, including “Hard Luck Blues” (his biggest seller in 1950), “Love Don’t Love Nobody”, “Rockin’ at Midnight,” “Boogie at Midnight,” “Miss Fanny Brown,” and “Cadillac Baby”.
- Shortly before his death he performed at the Whisky A Go-Go in West Hollywood, California and headlined the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 1981.